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How to Deal With a Threatening Spouse During a Divorce

Posted On October 11, 2023 In Divorce,Domestic Violence

Divorce is rarely easy, and an amicable divorce isn’t always an attainable goal. The majority of divorces in Arizona have at least some degree of contention over the separation of marital assets, child custody, or one spouse seeking spousal support from the other. While a degree of contention and fraught feelings is normal in a divorce, some spouses take their hard feelings too far, and the result can be a very real threat. If you don’t feel safe at this moment because your spouse is acting out in a frightening manner, there are many resources to turn to for help, including your local law enforcement in an emergency. 

If you aren’t certain if your spouse’s threatening behavior crosses the line the following information from domestic violence experts can help.

Is My Spouse’s Behavior Stalking?

Sometimes a spouse’s anger escalates into bizarre or frightening behavior. The following stalking behaviors from an ex-spouse may be signs of danger:

  • Continuing to come over or call when you’ve asked them not to
  • Sending unwanted messages, emails, or letters
  • Following you
  • Collecting information about you from friends and family members
  • Posting angry comments or insults about you on social media platforms
  • Threatening to post intimate photos or videos of you online
  • Irrationally using court filings against you
  • Giving you expensive or sentimental gifts that you don’t want

You should take any of the above behaviors seriously as they could indicate an escalating situation, especially if your spouse has any history of domestic violence.

How to Protect Yourself From a Threatening Spouse During Divorce

It’s important to take immediate steps to protect yourself from a stalking or threatening spouse. Some of the following steps can help:

  • Alert your spouse that they should only contact you through email or messaging and only about the necessities of exchanging the children or crucial information about the children
  • Don’t respond to any other attempts at contact
  • Explain the situation to trusted friends and family members and ask them not to give your ex-spouse any personal information about you
  • Keep written records of any attempts at contact from your spouse and document specific threats with the date, place, and time
  • Keep your attorney updated on any new stalking or threatening behaviors from your spouse
  • Seek counseling for you and/or your children if the situation causes anxiety or depression.

Your physical safety as well as that of your children is paramount in a situation of escalating threats of violence from a spouse or ex-spouse. If your spouse makes direct threats, it’s essential to seek protection orders to ensure your safety and alert law enforcement to the situation. You can petition the court for an order of protection through the Clerk of Court’s office in your jurisdiction. If the judge grants the petition, the law prohibits your spouse from contacting you or going to your home or workplace.

Extreme situations of online stalking may constitute cyberstalking, which could result in serious criminal charges.

Don’t Forget to Protect Yourself Financially Against a Threatening Spouse

Physical threats and intimidation aren’t the only ways an angry ex can act out against a spouse during the divorce process. It’s essential to speak to your Chandler divorce attorney and/or a financial expert about protecting yourself financially. If you haven’t yet opened your own bank account, it’s important to do so as soon as possible. Be sure to clarify with your attorney what you can and cannot do with your marital assets to avoid the appearance of hiding assets during the distribution process in your divorce.

After you open your own accounts, remove your name from all joint accounts. Remove your spouse’s name on all of your online subscriptions and streaming accounts and change the passwords. Be sure to also change passwords on all electronic forums and accounts, including your email and social media accounts.

Remember, stalking and harassment are crimes. These behaviors could also negatively impact your spouse’s ability to share custody and parenting time.